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Linux Passes the Microsoft WGA Test 338

Wil writes "Here's a good one for the Linux fans -- running Wine on Linux and attempting to download a Windows Genuine Advantage protected file from the Microsoft website works just fine. It seems that Bill Gates has a soft spot for Tux after all, or at least isn't bothered about him downloading updates."
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Linux Passes the Microsoft WGA Test

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  • Unnecessary (Score:5, Funny)

    by phpm0nkey ( 768038 ) * on Monday August 08, 2005 @08:38PM (#13275021) Homepage
    "Here's a good one for the Linux fans"

    Does that prepositional phrase really narrow it down on Slashdot?
    • Re:Unnecessary (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Eightyford ( 893696 ) on Monday August 08, 2005 @08:43PM (#13275059) Homepage
      I know that was a joke, but I bet many slashdot users (like me) are still more than likely just fans of the idea of linux, than the actually software.
      • Re:Unnecessary (Score:5, Interesting)

        by DrHanser ( 845654 ) on Monday August 08, 2005 @10:34PM (#13275621) Homepage

        This is quite true. Most slashdotters don't actually use Linux []. Read the "Operating Systems" portion.

        • Re:Unnecessary (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 08, 2005 @11:12PM (#13275810)
          I wonder if the numbers are skewed by the sheer amount of people who get bored at work and check slashdot from their company mandated windows PC
        • Most of us are logging on from work. And following links, whether we actually log in and post or not, that still counts as bieng a "windows user" as opposed to being at home and logging in from my *nix/*nux boxen. Big diff.

          Most IT joints use windows because having "Microsoft Partner" on your shirt and car means you must know something about ripping others off of their hard earned money. It also means you are a FUD Spreading Professional. Linux has no claims against such marketing might. Linux can't eve
        • I think in rality you might want to take a big chnk out of Windows numbers.

          Consider all the people that use Windows at work and something else at home. Really I am an OS X user but I am giving the Windows numbers a boost by reading far more often from work than at home. So the Windows number is not nearly as big as it would seem.
          • And some people use Windows because a lot of fancy specialized software runs only on that (think audio), while other minor boxes can be running whatever OS.
        • Re:Unnecessary (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Kjella ( 173770 )
          Depends if you count web views, i.e. desktops as the only "use" of Linux. I run a linux server, my parents have two linux desktops (zero windows), one doubling as a server but I still have my primary Windows box. There's simply some programs I can't seem to let go of, and then there's games. When PS3/Xbox360 starts getting some nice HDTV games I might finally drop that and switch completely to Linux. But until then, I'll keep getting counted as a Windows user, Windows/Opera no less.
      • Re:Unnecessary (Score:4, Insightful)

        by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @12:14AM (#13276057) Homepage Journal
        "I know that was a joke, but I bet many slashdot users (like me) are still more than likely just fans of the idea of linux, than the actually software."

        I can't say that's all that surprising. All you have to do is talk about how great and free and open Linux is and suddenly your comment is marked with a nice pretty word like "Insightful". If you're talking about Microsoft and you use words like "monopolist", the same thing happens to your post.

        Fortunately, things are more balanced than they used to be. But man, years ago, you always got a +5 Insightful by raising the question of whether or not a new type of computer could run Linux or not. (Hence the "But does it run Linux?" jokes that come along from time to time.)

        A lot of people play Slashdot like it's a popularity game. That's why this joke is pretty funny.
        • I've used Linux at work and at home for years. No "MS updating", no "anti-virus", etc.
          • by stor ( 146442 )
            I've used Linux at work and at home for years. No "MS updating", no "anti-virus", etc.

            Karma Whore ;)

    • Actually it's a great one for Microsoft. You see every time a story appears all over the press they fix another hole in their Windows Advantage software. In six months, they'll have something damn hard to beat. Those who have Windows that won't validate must thank you for posting this one /. editors. They must thank you a lot!
  • by Ph33r th3 g(O)at ( 592622 ) on Monday August 08, 2005 @08:39PM (#13275029)
    If the WGA check works under WINE on Linux, then Microsoft gets made fun of. If it doesn't, they're accused of anti-trust violations, malfeasance, and generally being bad.
    • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Monday August 08, 2005 @08:47PM (#13275085) Homepage Journal
      Because WGA is stupid. Succeeding at doing something stupid to people is bad. Failing to do something stupid to people is silly. It must be nice to be Microsoft sometime, when some people want to sympathize with even their stupid moves that do nothing to help anyone but Microsoft.
      • Having a licensed version of Windows, I don't really see how this is bad for me.

        It isn't an "advantage" for me since it makes no difference whether I can download a file with or without the WGA check, but it doesn't hurt me either.
    • Besides, "Genuine Advantage" is a misleading moniker, like "Patriot Act". Who has the real 'advantage', someone who buys a product at artificially inflated prices or the person who takes 'advantage' of free or lower cost products or, can get away with stealing it like Mstf did?
      • Who has the real 'advantage', someone who buys a product at artificially inflated prices

        You mean, like Red Hat Linux for servers at $2,499.00? Let me guess: it costs something to support products, so it's OK to charge when you're Red Hat, just not when you're Microsoft, right?

        artificially inflated prices

        Mac OS X v10.4 = $129.00 (at Apple [])

        Windows XP Pro = $108.99 (shop around []).

        stealing it

        What the hell are you talking about? People buy it because they want it. They've got plenty of other ch
      • "someone who buys a product at artificially inflated prices..."

        Something along these lines came up a few days ago in a conversation when someone mentioned how expensive XP is.

        How expensive is an "update" on Mac OS X.x every 18 or so months? I do believe I seen something in the range of $129. That's not a bad price, but how much is Windows (not just XP), and how often do you have to buy a newer version, once every 5 or so years?

        In all seriousness, I think the cost of Windows is a lot better than paying every
    • Wow, my heart really goes out to that half-trillion dollar monopoly.

      "McBain! How do you sleep at night?"
      "On top of a large pile of money with many beautiful women."
    • by donscarletti ( 569232 ) on Monday August 08, 2005 @09:59PM (#13275446)
      The reason Ms is being teased is not because WINE is allowed to download a file. It is because, by accident, a non-authorised method of downloading managed to circumvent a mechanism to stopping un-authorised downloads. In WINE's case this is not a bad thing and it isn't really a loss for Microsoft since Wine clearly is not a pirate version of Windows. What's wrong is that a program that wasn't approved by Microsoft was able to download a file it wasn't theoretically supposed to. Thus it is a proof that many other programs can circumvent this same mechanism.
    • Not really. Microsoft gets accused of anti-trust violations, malfeasance, and generally being bad regardlessly of whether WGA works under WINE on Linux. If it does, however, they get made fun of as well. :)
  • by FlameboyC11 ( 711446 ) on Monday August 08, 2005 @08:41PM (#13275044)
    Wine (as mentioned in one of the links) shows up as Windows 98 to microsoft, which, as far as I know, isn't even supported anymore. So, I guess since it isn't supported, it won't be validated or not validated and just lets the user pass through as if it was.
  • WINE Piracy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chucks86 ( 799149 ) <> on Monday August 08, 2005 @08:43PM (#13275058)
    I wonder if a pirated copy of Windows could use Cygwin running WINE to bypass the WGA...
    • Re:WINE Piracy (Score:5, Informative)

      by sweetooth ( 21075 ) on Monday August 08, 2005 @08:55PM (#13275133) Homepage
      Why would anyone do that, they still haven't bothered to fix this work around.

              Before pressing 'Custom' or 'Express' buttons paste this text to the address bar and press enter:


              It turns off the trigger for the key check.
      • Although I have a legit copy of windows, I tried this anyway, and it didn't seem to do anything for downloading the DirectX SDK. (It still required the WGA test).

        Maybe this is only for updating to XPSP2?
        • You don't get the WGA check until after you've updated to XPSP2 already. I've tried it on XP Home and Pro (both legit copies) and it's worked no problem.

          Just checked it again. Get to the windows update screen with the "express" and "custom" buttons.

          paste into the address bar


          hit enter.

          Then press custom and it goes right to checking for updates. So it's possible that it's something specific to that update though I don't see why.
      • Re:WINE Piracy (Score:5, Informative)

        by paranoidgeek ( 840730 ) <> on Monday August 08, 2005 @10:18PM (#13275540) Homepage
        Just enter this into your broswer URL bar ( one line ) :

        javascript:document.cookie='WinGenCookie=validatio n=0; expires=01 Jan 2999 00:00:00 GMT';

        This has worked for ages.
    • Re:WINE Piracy (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tony Hoyle ( 11698 )
      Or you can just bypass all that and disable the activex control...
  • WTF (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 08, 2005 @08:43PM (#13275062)
    Pretty amazing considering I can't get a legit copy of XP to pass WGA.
  • That's great . . . (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ifishfortorque ( 866984 ) on Monday August 08, 2005 @08:43PM (#13275063)
    Too bad it won't work on my XP Volume license anymore without a crack . . .
    • by Neo-Rio-101 ( 700494 ) on Monday August 08, 2005 @09:20PM (#13275242)
      Well wouldn't you then just use Linux to download the patches manually and apply them to XP? Thing is, if genuine advantage can be circumvented by WINE or Windows 98 for that matter, ANYONE can get their Windows XP patched (geuine, cracked, pirated or otherwise) without this stupid "Genuine advantage" nonsense. The thing is, this WGA thing was only designed as a stop gap to help computer-illiterate customers report illegal Windows CD vendors. If you still want those patches, you can still get them.
  • by StonedRat ( 837378 ) on Monday August 08, 2005 @08:44PM (#13275066) Homepage Journal
    If you go to tools->manage addons and disable "windows genuine advantage" then you'll have no problems downloading any updates. They only fixed the javascript exploit.
    • If you go to tools->manage addons and disable "windows genuine advantage" then you'll have no problems downloading any updates. They only fixed the javascript exploit.

      That only works in Windows XP SP2. Does anyone know how to disable it for older versions of XP?
    • If you go to tools->manage addons and disable "windows genuine advantage" then you'll have no problems downloading any updates. They only fixed the javascript exploit.

      I don't understand what "go to tools" means. Can someone elaborate?
  • I'm sure it can be contained within the user Wine-Box (Hmmm.. sounds too much like Boxed Wine?) (yes, I know it's not a sandbox, but the Linux user permissions tend to be more sane than Windows), but ActiveX anywhere just doesn't make me feel warm 'n fuzzy.
    • afaict wine isn't really much of a sandbox.

      sure windows apps may see what they think is windows but i don't think there is anything to stop them making linux syscalls directly once they realise they are in wine.
      • Unprivileged (Score:2, Informative)

        by peope ( 584706 )
        As said in grandparent it is not a sanbox.

        But if you run it under a non-privileged account under linux you will have it (sort of) in a sandbox enviroment.

        Guess you could put it in user-mode linux too.. if you are really paranoid :)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    But it turns out that it was destined to become the MS patch download wrapper of choice.
  • by bersl2 ( 689221 ) on Monday August 08, 2005 @08:46PM (#13275080) Journal
    As reported in Microsoft Admits Targeting Wine Users [].
  • by Sv-Manowar ( 772313 ) on Monday August 08, 2005 @08:47PM (#13275086) Homepage Journal

    This is clearly something that those out to criticise Microsoft's attempts at reducing software piracy will jump on and crow about. However, the fact that a windows application checking for the characteristics of a pirated copy of Windows cannot find them on WINE shouldn't be a surprise to anyone rational. At the end of the day, its important to remember that Microsoft are just trying to raise the bar. They aren't trying to stop Joe Cracker and his friends from reverse engineering the activation process and hex editing the checks out of the binaries (at least with this measure), they're trying to stop small computer shops loading systems with pirated 'free' copies of Windows by making the piracy visible and clear to the end user.

    I don't agree with Microsoft's policy of restricting updates (such as the essential SP2) from unlicenced products, but cheap headlines like this help noone

    • I don't agree with Microsoft's policy of restricting updates (such as the essential SP2) from unlicenced products, but cheap headlines like this help [no one].

      Perhaps, but when change is needed, the politics of how it's pursued is as important as rational thought, arguments or anything else for that matter. For my money, cheap headlines and various levels of advocacy all play important roles. And to the degree any of them can be considered feckless, it will keep the spotlight on an issue, thereby increasi
    • Exactly. People who download warez'd windows could downloads warez'd updates if MS made it too hard to access.

      But this activation scheme and MS giving out legit copies to those that report the small shops will stop a lot of piracy.

      Yeah, these activation schemes suck. But its not really impressive that there are ways around it.

    • They aren't trying to stop Joe Cracker and his friends from reverse engineering the activation process and hex editing the checks out of the binaries (at least with this measure), they're trying to stop small computer shops loading systems with pirated 'free' copies of Windows by making the piracy visible and clear to the end user.

      Theoretically, wouldn't the people running the shady stores be "Joe Cracker" types themselves, or at least seek out some to get cracked copies to begin with?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Bill Gates (

    * Fixed bug in verdetect.cpp that allowed WINE under GNU/Linux to pass the WGA test
    * WGA
  • Advantage: Linux (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Monday August 08, 2005 @08:51PM (#13275113) Homepage Journal
    My favorite WGA experience was recently trying to download some WMV codecs from . For the first time since I've been doing that for upgrades after installing Win2K, I got a "we suggest you verify your Windows installation with Windows Genuine Advantage" message. Though it was a "suggestion", I couldn't proceed to download until I let them install software that went through my computer's HD, siftin whatever data, with the "Microsoft assurance" that they weren't uploading any data to their server. After forcing me to let them frisk me, while presenting it as a mere "suggestion", their assurance of course had no credibility. But it was a tabula-rasa new install of a legit Windows OS on my machine, so it passed me without really bothering anything but my dignity.

    Then I downloaded the codecs, and copied them to my Linux machine's ffmpeg folder :P.
  • by v1 ( 525388 )
    Bill doesn't sell computers, he sells operating systems and software. Why on earth would he code windows to NOT run under Wine? Those are paying customers.

    I'd be willing to bet they specifically tested it with Wine. (maybe not like they tested it with a real PC, but it got tested I'm sure)

    Now on the other hand, if this were say, Mac OS X....
  • Wouldn't one be more than willing to allow people the ability to easily install and run any of their wares?
  • From a FAQ on WGA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 08, 2005 @08:55PM (#13275131)
    Will systems running WINE pass WGA validation?

    WINE is a Win32 emulator which allows Windows applications, such as Office, to run on top of X and UNIX. When WGA validation detects WINE running on the system, it will notify users that they are running non-genuine Windows, and will not allow genuine Windows downloads for that system. Users of WINE should consult the WINE community for WINE updates. It is important to note that WINE users, and other users of non-genuine Windows, can continue to download updates for most Microsoft applications from Microsoft application-specific sites, such as Office Updates. x []
  • Ssshhh..... He might hear us....
  • All they did was paste a code in that they no dobt generated from a legit box. This is that 'crack' that came out way back when, where you generate the code on a genuine box, and then enter the code that comes back in the pop up box. I don't believe it checked what OS you were running, it just did a checksum against the code you entered. While certainly amusing and somewhat embarrasing on the surface for MS, it didn't really prove anything.
  • by vinn ( 4370 ) on Monday August 08, 2005 @09:21PM (#13275250) Homepage Journal
    The only reason it still works is because Wine just went through some massive changes with regard to configuration. The WGA check works by checking for specific registry keys that Wine uses. The new configuration moved those keys from HKLM to HKCU. It's just a matter of time before they change the check they use. The position of Alexandre is that we're not going to play the insane game of working around their workarounds.

    The good news is, there's not much reason any more to need the WGA. We've got a new DCOM and MSI framework that makes those two downloads largely irrelevant. Jacek Caban is hard at work integrating a Gecko engine into Wine as part the MSHTML.DLL (usually referred to as "Internet Explorer" on Windows.) So native Windows DLL's are falling by the wayside.

    Of course, Microsoft got so much bad press over the WGA check that I wonder if they'd tempt it all again. Last time it raised the ire of eWeek and PC Magazine, so I imagine the next round will just be more bad press. Headline: "Giant software company continues to squash open source software"

    obPlug: Wine is slated for a beta release in a little over a month.
    • It would make more sense, if they wanted to prevent WINE from having access, to check that you have some registry key that's not needed for anything else and only shows up with official Windows installations. Then they can just ask WINE not to use it (or not to set it to one of the Windows values) and be clear about their policy. It's a bit foolish to try to identify a WINE system by WINE's keys, which will obviously change at the whim of the WINE developers.

      Most likely, they don't really care; if you've go
      • No, that wouldn't work at all since anyone could just manually add the key. Identifying the key is a perfectly valid way of doing it and likely won't change at this point. (The fact that it did change back in June was merely the consequence of it being on the to-do list for two years.)

        Anyway, this check was specifically added to prevent Wine from downloading Windows applications. The key here is people who use Wine may already have a legal version of Windows and therefore Microsoft is deliberately tying
    • by bogado ( 25959 )
      A nice hack would be to drop this gecko MSHTML.DLL in a real windows and see if IE would use gecko as a backend. :-P
  • by rincebrain ( 776480 ) on Monday August 08, 2005 @09:30PM (#13275284) Homepage
    This was noted on there awhile ago. WGA checks for Wine's registry key, and initially, demonstrated the behavior initially noted; that is, claiming non-valid Windows.

    A bit after WGA was initially released, however, the WGA authentication dialog started accepting WINE-generated WGA codes with no explanation.

    I don't know if WGA still checks for WINE, but if it does, it's something Microsoft can disable on their end quickly and easily, any time they want.

    This isn't newsworthy, and it's not even news. The above comments about how WINE is being checked for were noted in the first March issue of WINE's newsletter [], and the fact that Microsoft began accepting WINE-generated WGA validations was noted a few issues thereafter, though Google can't seem to find it.
  • Microsoft's efforts to fight counterfeiting have hit another snag with the posting of a new method claimed to get around a Windows piracy check. iracy+found/2100-1002_3-5821113.html [] [] file=GenuineCheck.exe&action=Find []
  • by glowworm ( 880177 ) on Monday August 08, 2005 @09:48PM (#13275384) Journal
    This isn't new, it's a known exploit. WGA only cares about XP and 2K3. If GenuineCheck.exe is run on a 2000, ME, 98 and 95 system it will generate an authorization code and allow you to pass onto the download.

    When I spoke to MS about it last week they said it was "By Design".

    Using the same technique if you download GenuineCheck.exe with a pirate copy of XP and set it's compatibility to Windows 2000 or Windows 98 you will also get a valid code and can then use it to proceed to download.

    I think that, more important than ways to defeat WGA, is that the user experience for Firefox people is harder and more dangerous than those using IE. For example if you use IE and elect to use the ActiveX control you just have to press one button. If you use Firefox you are forced to use GenuineCheck.exe every time you want a download. This requires a download, a run of the program, a copy paste a button click and then you are free to download. Firefox people should bombard MS to write an XPI or better yet scrap this stupid scheme.
  • by MrP- ( 45616 )
    I cant even get the WGA tool to run on my XP box.

    It just says that i need a newer version and to check my computers clock. Seeing as I got it right from (and just tried it again 5 mins ago) and my clock is fine, i guess i cant check if my windows is valid

    oh well
  • WGA's purpose (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SnprBoB86 ( 576143 ) on Monday August 08, 2005 @10:09PM (#13275500) Homepage
    Product activation exists to make Windows (slightly) more difficult to pirate. WGA exists to warn consumers if they have bought a computer packaged with an illegal copy of Windows from an unscrupulous salesperson.

    That said, an unscrupulous salesperson could probably implement someway to bypass the WGA test easily as well.

    I'd assume Microsoft doesn't care if Wine is considered genuine or not. It can certainly be annoying for legitimate Windows users, so I would assume the test errors on the side of not-hassling the user.

    That said, I wish it would go away. It is annoying extra step on the rare occasions that I do have 2 deal with it.
  • It's always nice to hear that Linux/WINE users can download updates from, menwhile my legit Windows 2000 install can't.

    Seems like the more they try, the worse things get.

    I'm really thinking of wiping the drive and installing good-old NT4. Never had any problems with it, and it smokes 2000/XP by a longshot. Who really wants DirectX 7+ anyhow?
  • because WGA passes on Windows 2000 and lower. WINE emulates Windows 9X, IIRC.

    There is a trick to download the Geneuinecheck.exe on XP and run it in Windows 2000 mode to fool it into passing.

    This is not due to WINE, or Microsoft, just the way Windows WGA was designed to work.

    This is all common knowledge, why did it make it to a Slashdot story?
  • Microsoft, and even past Slashdot articles have reported, time and time again, that such measures used in WinXP SP1, WinXP SP2, and WGA, are to deter "casual pirating".

    In other words, the guys who sell CDs in Hong Kong with the generic Devilsown key.

    In more succinct words, "Sure, get it for free, but expect to WORK for it".

    Actually, a sweat equity OS doesn't sound that bad.
  • by defile ( 1059 ) on Monday August 08, 2005 @11:12PM (#13275808) Homepage Journal

    I would play Half-life + Counterstrike under WINE on Linux, and eventually it got to the point where you needed to run Punkbuster to be able to play it online. Basically, the servers look for Punkbuster to scan your system for cheat tools and make sure that everything looks kosher before they let you play.

    I downloaded Punkbuster and was sure that it wouldn't like the looks of WINE's environment. I connected to the server, waited for it to verify and... it worked! I was feeling two types of way when that happened.

    1. WINE is god damn amazing.

    2. Punkbuster is stupid. I could have any number of hacks running under Linux, I could have been running WINE under ptrace() the entire time, injecting evil as needed into the Counterstrike game world, and Punkbuster would have been completely oblivious to it. No matter how hard it tried it would never be able to inspect the host Linux system for evil. Client side anti-cheat systems are doomed.

  • 129 comments when I start to write this post, and it doesn't look like anyone paid much attention to what this guy has done. Read his description: "Being a Linux Zealot, this is the first time I've actually seen it, but I've obviously heard lots about it. So, I think, lets see what Microsoft makes of a Linux box then.....

    clicketyclick. copy-paste-code. clicketyclick.

    What copy-n-paste code? I've done WGA tons of times, and I never had to enter any codes?! Then, if you look at his screenshot (here []),
  • Now I'll be able to actually download the ms anti spyware tools that my MS infected friends ask me for.

    Normally I'd just give them adware and other more available tools.
  • The check (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @03:02AM (#13276626) Homepage
    seems to be more of a way to try to scare users than to actually do something real. It seems to have as many holes as a colander now.

    "Eat your vegetables now Bill or the big bad wolf will come to eat you!" :-)

    On the other hand, if the solution was too strict it would only cause too much badwill for denying legitimate users from downloading software. It seems like it is scanning for known leaked corporate keywords and nothing else.

    So maybe it is time for an update to the licensing model of Windows instead? The cost of maintaining a multitude of versions (XP Home, Media Center, Professional etc.) can actually be a problem too.

Loose bits sink chips.